How to catch crawfish in 10 easy steps

Louisiana crawfish farmer Burt Tietje of Jeff Davis Parish holds up a hexagonal-mesh trap. A recent study conducted at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley, La. suggests that a 3/4 inch square mesh may be more efficient than the hexagonal trap.

Louisiana crawfish farmer Burt Tietje of Jeff Davis Parish holds up a hexagonal-mesh trap. A recent study conducted at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley, La. suggests that a 3/4 inch square mesh may be more efficient than the hexagonal trap.

  1. Get a piece of string.
  2. Tie chicken leg to string. (It’s not necessary for the chicken to be alive).
  3. Find a bayou, ditch or pond.
  4. Stand on the bank of the bayou, ditch or pond.
  5. Cast the chicken leg tied to the string into the bayou, ditch or pond.
  6. Wait a few minutes, then slowly pull the chicken bone to land.
  7. Remove the crawfish from the chicken leg.
  8. Put crawfish in bucket.
  9. Repeat the prior nine steps until bucket if full.

Of course, that’s the time-honored way to catch fresh Louisiana crawfish. Just about every kid in the Bayou State has caught crawfish that way, but if one wants to trap hundreds of pounds of crawfish, efficiency ought to be incorporated into the plan.

Chicken legs make great crawfish bait.

Chicken legs make great crawfish bait.

Here’s an article published in Louisiana Farm and Ranch detailing a study in crawfish trap construction that may help you in your quest for crawfish.

Louisiana Farm and Ranch magazine: Serving those who feed the world

Louisiana Farm and Ranch magazine: Serving those who feed the world

Over the last several years, crawfish farmers have been switching to a slightly different crawfish trap – one constructed of ¾-inch square mesh wire in lieu of those made from ¾-inch hexagonal (6-sided) mesh.
The square mesh configuration provides for a much sturdier trap than the hex configuration, thus increasing the useful life of the trap. It was also noticed that crawfish catch was increased by the square mesh trap, partly because the square configuration of the mesh retains a slightly smaller crawfish than the hex pattern. Traps constructed of square mesh wire may also be more efficient because of the increased structural integrity, which allows trap bottoms and funnel openings to retain their original shape better.

One study at the Rice Research Station in 2003 documented a 39% average increase in catch, from 525 to 728 pounds per acre, with ¾-inch square mesh traps compared to the old industry standard ¾-inch hexagonal mesh traps. With increased catch efficiency, the question arises, “Can square mesh traps be successfully used at a lower density than previously recommended for the less efficient hex mesh traps?” Based on research in well-managed ponds producing more than 1,000 pounds per acre, 20 to 24 hex mesh traps per acre were found to be the most efficient and economical trap density in a harvesting schedule that entails emptying traps 3 or 4 days per week.

A preliminary study was conducted in 2004 at the Rice Research Station comparing square mesh trap densities of 18 and 24 per acre. With an average annual yield of 623 pounds per acre, the higher trap density resulted in only 48.5 pounds per acre, or 8%, higher yield. Assuming an average bait cost (½ fish and ½ manufactured bait) of $24 per hundred pounds, and 1/3 pound of bait per trap over 63 days of trapping, bait cost alone for the additional 6 traps per acre would result in an increased cost of $29 per acre, or 60 cents per pound for the additional yield. Although the lower trap density in this one study did not lower yields significantly, additional studies are needed under an array of growing conditions to confirm lower trap density recommendations and to determine the most cost-efficient trap densities under different conditions.

This Crawfish Report brought to you as a public service by www.CrawfishReport.com.

 

If you want to learn more about the Louisiana crawfish industry and the Pelican State’s fascinating culture, check out these two books by author Sam Irwin of Breaux Bridge, La.

Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean by Sam Irwin

Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean by Sam Irwin

It Happens in Louisiana by Sam Irwin

It Happens in Louisiana by Sam Irwin